Though summer won't official start for a few weeks, the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. — celebrated on the final Monday in May — is often considered the unofficial start of the season, which many will celebrate poolside.
Though the concept of the swimming pool is an ancient one, such places were generally public or semi-public until relatively recently. Even during what swimming-pool expert Jeff Wiltse has described to NPR as the "pool-building spree" of the 1920s and '30s, most of the pools being built were large, resort-style ones. Owning a private pool was so expensive and difficult that only the very wealthy could do so. That changed around 1960 — due to technology but also, as Wiltse points out, sometimes due to backlash to the desegregation of public pools.
When LIFE magazine sent photographer Joe Scherschel to capture the new world of the backyard swimming pool in 1960, the magazine reported that U.S. consumers were predicted to spend $250 million — that's more than $2 billion of today's dollars — on private pools. And, thanks to new innovations in pool building, the cost of a backyard pool was way down, so do-it-yourself fans and middle-class families could afford to add a pool to their property for far less than it would have cost before.
But not everything was perfect in the pool, as LIFE pointed out: "Pool owners must cope with water filters, seasonal changes and sudden friends."